Ordinarily, this space would be occupied by companies celebrating an anniversary, achieving quick success, producing unusual products or making an important contribution to the Utah economy.
But today's story is about a $37 million expansion and remodeling project proposed by the Newspaper Agency Corp., the company that prints, circulates and handles the advertising for the Deseret News, where stories about all of those other companies are printed."We are committed to the downtown area and believe that newspapers will be around forever," said Dominic Welch, NAC president, in reply to a question about why the company doesn't build a new plant rather than remodel the old one on Regent Street between First and Second South.
Aside from the fact that remodeling the old building would be cheaper than building a new one elsewhere, Welch said the primary reason for the project is to improve the quality of the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune so advertisers will be happier.
"Today, people are more conscious of quality and color," Welch said. "If you don't think that's true then take a look at department store catalogs, pre-printed advertisement supplements stuffed inside newspapers, color television and some newspapers that feature plenty of colored charts and graphs," Welch said.
The $37 million project, which is expected to be completed by 1991, will give the two daily newspapers excellent editorial and advertising reproductive quality. After all, advertising is a newspaper's bread and butter and those paying the bills want their products displayed well.
But quality costs a lot. "This is the most massive expenditure we have ever approved between the press installation and building remodeling," Welch said, commenting on the high cost of the offset presses that would be installed.
To design the renovation project, the NAC has hired Ken Harding, a Denver architect who designed several printing facilities for USA Today, a nationally circulated newspaper, and John Vincent, a Salt Lake architect. Construction would start late this year if the Regent Street project is approved by Salt Lake officials.
During renovation the company plans to install and remove printing presses that weigh thousands of pounds, and the NAC wants operations to continue to go smoothly during construction. To help this process, management is asking employees how their work would be affected by the project, Welch said.
While the insides of the NAC operation would undergo many changes, one of the most noticeable changes to the public would be on Regent Street. Plans call for the sidewalk on the west side of the street to be eliminated because the newspaper loading dock would be moved from the south side to the east side of the building and it wouldn't be wise to have foot traffic in the area with so many vehicles coming and going.
However, the sidewalk on the east side of Regent Street would be enhanced.
The newsprint, currently unloaded from flatbed trucks north of the building, would be unloaded from semitrailer trucks at the south side of the building. Welch said the NAC also plans to build a larger newsprint storage area becausein offset printing, the ideal is to have a seven-day supply of paper where the newspaper is printed for the best reproduction quality.
Phase one of the remodeling project involves the basement, which now has a shower and locker room, paper reelroom and ink storage areas. The basement would be gutted to permit storage of newsprint during future phases of construction. A new shower and locker room,training area and lunch room would be built on the second floor.
Phase two calls for new areas for central plant mechanical equipment. The mechanical equipment on the second floor would be relocated in the basement and/or on the roof.
In the third phase, the newsprint storage area would be turned into a space for a new line of Headliner offset press units.
Phase four would include the new mailroom bundle dock. Mailroom distribution would continue through the existing six dock areas while construction of nine dock loading areas on Regent Street are completed. At the same time, the existing Headliner offset press would be remodeled and upgraded.
The final mailroom dock area, the new newsprint unloading area on the south end of the building and the new newsprint storage area would be transformed during the fifth phase. This phase also involves changing a letterpress into an offset press. Letterpress is a method of inking metal plates, which form images on the paper that comes in contact with them.
Why convert the letterpress to offset? Welch said the letterpress was fine when the NAC was using molten lead, linotype machines and heavy metal plates. But when the company went to thin aluminum plates, the reproduction suffered. That's why NAC wants an all-offset press operation. Offset provides the best printing quality because the ink is applied to a roller and then to the newsprint.
In the final phase, another letterpress, as well as support areas on levels one and two would be removed. That area would remain empty but could be used if more presses are needed. Mike Brennan, NAC director of operations, said the remodeling project would provide production capabilities past the year 2000.
In 1952 the Deseret News bought the Salt Lake Telegram and together with the Salt Lake Tribune entered into a joint operating agreement with the NAC. Although the Deseret News purchased some property and equipment from the Tribune when the NAC agreement was signed, the News editorial offices remained at 33 Richards Street until the late 1960s and then moved to 30 E. First South.
Welch said that in 1953, the NAC installed a letterpress with a capacity of 112 pages. That press will be removed when the renovation project is completed. In 1968 NAC purchased another letterpress with a capacity of 144 pages, and a Metro offset press followed in 1976.
He said because NAC has a hybrid system of two types of printing, expenses are high because of the added personnel needed to run both types of presses. Going to offset printing would reduce production costs.
Welch is amazed at the increase in costs. In 1976 installation of the Metro presses and changes made to the building cost $1.7 million. But now, installation of the new offset presses and retrofitting the letterpress units to offset production will cost $21 million of the $37 million total.
Part of the overall mission of the NAC to improve the quality of both newspapers includes the recent completion of a printing facility at 548 Gale St. Currently, the NAC prints USA Today on the Gale Street offset presses, but during construction at Regent Street some of the pre-print supplementsfor the Deseret News will be printed at Gale Street.